Triple jump winner Alexis Copello at the Indoor Meeting Karlsruhe (© Jean-Pierre Durand)
Of the five world-leading marks at the Indoor Meeting Karlsruhe, the opening IAAF World Indoor Tour meeting for 2016, only one came in a field event so the plaudits have to go to Cuban triple jumper Alexis Copello with his effort of 16.99m on Saturday (6).
Now 30 and with only a bronze medal at the 2009 World Championships from global contests to show for a career of high-level consistency with a plethora of jumps beyond 17 metres, Copello can take confidence from the fact that although this so far has been a relatively modest season in his event, he still defeated some big names in the German city, and defeated them well.
He took the lead in the second round with 16.83m and extended it further when he leapt 16.99m in the third round.
Jonathan Drack of Mauritius was a surprise second with a national record of 16.67m. Portugal’s 2008 Olympic champion and last year’s European indoor champion was third with 16.65m while France’s European champion Benjamin Compaore was down in sixth place with 16.29m.
Another Frenchman to suffer a bittersweet evening was pole vault world record-holder Renaud Lavillenie.
He went through the pain barrier by vaulting with an injured ankle and needed three attempts each time to get over 5.70m, 5.84m – which would have sufficed for victory – and then a meeting record of 5.91m, the bar wobbling at the latter height as he wriggled over it, before bringing the bar down at 6.01m.
However, he finished the competition in visible pain and the question now is: what additional damage has he done to his joint and how will it affect the rest of his indoor season?
Canada’s world champion Shawn Barber was second with 5.77m while his predecessor, Germany’s Raphael Holzdeppe, was third in 5.70m.
Two-time European indoor 800m champion Adam Kszscot won over four laps of the track in Karlsruhe’s Messe arena in 1:45.96, the Pole clocking a European-leading time and the second fastest time in the world this year.
After pacemaker Bram Som stood to one side shortly after passing 400m in 51.62, Kszczot and Pierre-Ambroise Bosse swapped the lead until Kszczot got away from his French rival with 80 metres to go. Bosse never tossed in the towel and finished in a personal best of 1:46.25.
Choge shows his rivals a clean pair of heels again
The men’s 3000m boasted of an impressive field and the pace planned would theoretically have delivered a winning time of about 7:35.
However, a mixture of poor pace making and no one showing any inclination to run fast meant that the race only started in earnest three laps from home.
It proved to be tailor-made for Augustine Choge, whose tactical awareness put him in exactly the right position to attack over the final 150 metres and, just as he had done in Dusseldorf earlier this week, the Kenyan’s turn of speed proved decisive and he won in 7:43.22.
Germany’s Marie-Laurence Jungfleisch provided one of two domestic victories when she cleared 1.93m at the first time of asking and that was enough to clinch the women’s high jump before she had three failures at 1.96m.
Natasha Hastings, a stalwart of the USA’s medal-winning 4x400m teams at international championships in the past decade, was unchallenged when winning the second of two 400m races in 52.60, more than half a second in front of her nearest rival, to take the 10 ranking points and US$3000 first prize for each tour event.
However, Denmark’s Sara Slott Petersen, better known over the barriers and fourth in the 400m hurdles at the IAAF World Championships Beijing 2015, won her race just a few minutes earlier in a national indoor record of 52.80 and took second place in the overall results.
In the two men’s field events, held before the start of the main programme, Canada’s Tim Nedow moved up from third to first with his fourth and final effort of 20.89m in the shot, just shy of his career best of 21.00m indoors in Toronto two weeks ago.
In addition to taking first place, Nedow will go into the history books as the first ever winner of an IAAF World Indoor Tour event.
Local star Julian Howard, a Karlsruhe resident, was a convincing winner of the long jump – which is not an IAAF World Indoor Tour event in 2016 – with his second-round 8.03m, 31 centimetres better than anyone else could manage in the Messe.
Phil Minshull for the IAAF